SMALL and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) minister Sithembiso Nyoni has
accused local authorities of exploiting SMEs and defended their contribution to the fiscus.
In an interview with businessdigest this week, Nyoni said most SMEs suffered at the hands of councils who demand payments of between US$2 to US$5 a day without giving corresponding benefits.
She said despite payments SMEs made to councils, they were still working under deplorable conditions.
“The informal sector has been paying taxes indirectly and is being exploited. People should acknowledge their contributions,” Nyoni said. “My bone of contention with the city councils is that there is no proper infrastructure for SMEs that reflects the contributions being made. There are no dustbins, no water and no ablutions and yet they collect money and that is unfair.”
Nyoni said SMEs contributed between 67 to 85% of revenue to city councils around the country, adding the contribution was more than that from other sectors as a result. She also criticised landlords who are hindering the development of SMEs through charging what she called “exorbitant rentals.”
She said her ministry was looking to align their vision to the government’s socio-economic transformation programme, adding they were looking to publicise the Act governing SMEs to enlighten them of their rights.
Nyoni said her ministry would focus on value-addition and rural industrialisation, which entails value-addition at rural level. This, she said, would include preserving fruits, oil extraction as well as honey production. She said the aim was to have honey processing plants in every province to improve the livelihood of communities.
She added they were working on plans to formalise the informal sector, an issue that has always been of major national concern.
On her meeting with the business community in her capacity as Zanu PF secretary for business and liaison, Nyoni said they had discussed various issues including labour, power cuts and the liquidity crunch that has hamstrung business operations in the country.
“I learnt from my discussions with business that Zimbabweans are ready to work together and share ideas. People achieve more that way than working against each other,” Nyoni said.